This article was originally written by Lala C. Ballatan
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For us who are still young enough, we really haven’t discover yet how frustrating it is to become paralyzed/disabled or impaired after leading an active and normal life. Or for those of us who haven’t gotten into serious injury that impaired our motor skills, we really have no knowledge how devastating it could be to lie helpless and immobile. Sometimes, for those who have experienced this kind of physical pain and anguish over being paralyzed, the frustration is doubled when paralysis prevents them from ever doing their favorite sport or activity.
I do love biking. As a child I would go on late night biking around our village just to feel the exhilaration of experiencing a different kind of freedom. Biking gives me a sense of awareness over every part of my body being alive and active. I dread the day that I’ll grow old enough or be paralyzed and unable to ride a bike anymore! Oh, but it is dreadful to be deprived of the pleasure of riding a bike, again!
It’s quite good to note then that some people are appreciative of the bike for the paralyzed, reported on the BBC news on November 15, 2004, like Eleanor Freewheeling has expressed at ewheeling.over-blog/article-17631.html on November 23, 2004.
According to the BBC news, people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries could soon be able to go out biking.
The ‘bike’ is a sort of tricycle which scientists say, works by stimulating the legs electrically. This bike will not only provide a means of transport and recreation, but should also stop muscle wastage and could provide more mobility for the disabled user.
This technique considered as FES (functional electrical stimulation) tricycling has been developed by teams from University College London (UCL) and the University of Glasgow. FES involves stimulating paralyzed muscles by passing short pulses of current through electrodes on the skin. A stimulator synchronizes the stimulation with the pedal position while the person has a ‘throttle’ to control how much stimulation is applied – rather like a motor bike with the legs as the engine.
Within a year, we should be expecting the availability of this device, dubbed as the ‘recumbent tricycle’. Professor Nick Donaldson, one of the members of the team said that this device will help get the impaired people back into exercising safely. This will do them a lot of good since these disabled persons may not be open to the option of exercising, yet. The only current way being applied to wheelchair-bound persons’ in order to exercise the paralyzed muscles is by electrical stimulation. But it was not much fun to just stimulate the muscles during special sessions.
Thus in developing the bike, the team was to create a system where wheelchair athletes can use from home and will be fun to use. The new tricycle can be used at home to train the muscles while stationary, or for recreation outdoors.